There are a great number of Filipino showbiz celebrities out there who have successfully branched out into businesses of their own. Among their ever-growing number is Nash Aguas child-turned-teen heartthrob actor, who has made a great start of it before he has even reached his twenties. His dream business is quite a delicious niche: that of a Japanese restaurant specializing in ramen that is true to its roots yet still with prices easily within reach for everyone. This philosophy is even reflected in the restaurant’s pun of a name: MURAmen meaning “‘Affordable’ Ramen.” And while my Japanese is rather limited, I’m willing to bet that the Japanese kanji and hiragana under the English name in the restaurant logo means the same thing.
With a new branch about to open at the University Belt, MURAmen goes the extra mile to project an image of authenticity. From its distinctive front-door awning to the decorated window-screens similar to the first branch back in Makati, it will really sell the point that they are a Japanese cuisine restaurant. Even the interior hews to that design philosophy, as they will have long tables with benches and stools for the customers, just like a traditional ramen place would. And like its Makati branch it’s going to be a hit, with their Facebook page full of photos of many patrons filling the inside to capacity, enjoying their bowls of excellent MURAmen.
And here we come to the real draw for eager consumers of Japanese food, MURAmen’s menu. It’s fairly basic and little frills; they are a ramen restaurant after all. But that means their chefs can pour their very best into the restaurant’s signature dish. The eponymous MURAmen is a mouthwatering sight, with ramen noodles in a bowl of delicious broth. Adding an undeniable Japanese character to the dish is the garnishing of Nori seawed sheets, choice pork cuts and a slice or two of the surimi add-on called narutomaki, the serrated disks of processed ground fish-meat with spiraling patterns. Yes, the character from “Naruto” is named after these, in-universe, even.
MURAmen is available in either regular (P120) or junior size (P80). In addition, you can have your order of MURAmen be in original flavor or in their new spicy variant, certain to be a big hit whenever the day is cold and rainy. Even better, customers can customize their MURAmen by ordering specific toppings and other goodies to their bowl at extra price. These include even more noodles, tamago (eggs), bacon chasu slices and meat fried lechon-kawali style (for a Filipino touch). Other than the MURAmen that bears their name, the restaurant also has plates of fresh-made gyoza if you’re not in the mood for soup.
Speaking of which, MURAmen does have a selection of dry meals on their menu, with rice replacing noodles and topped with your choice of meat, another hallmark of good old Japanese cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for a savory beef bowl, a lean chicken karaage or katsu, or a filling and flavorful pork tonkatsu, every bowl of rice topping is worth P99, with provisions for adding extra rice to your liking. The rice bowls even come with a drink included in the price.
Drinks at MURAmen are a reminder of sorts that even though it serves Japanese food, it’s still a proud Filipino restaurant. Their menu offers but two choices, calamansi (P70) or dalandan (P50), and for their prices the servings are good for two diners.
The MURAmen restaurant opened its original branch in Makati November of last year, and already they’ve developed a loyal following of patrons. It just goes to show how awesome their ramen is when the very owners and staff of other dining establishments in the immediate area would occasionally take their lunch break at MURAmen. Another thing to watch out for are their special promo offers popping up every once in a while. On their first month in 2016 they had a buy-one-take-one deal that had them sold out on promo day before closing time. Try hanging out with them on special events like Makati barangay fiestas or such. You never know!
Diners will be very pleased to know that MURAmen is open seven days a week, from 11 in the morning to 2 AM the following day. That means ramen and rice bowls galore all the way to the wee hours. Congratulations to Nash Aguas, for his singular vision in making this restaurant for quality but affordable ramen a reality. Many more will definitely be looking forward to try out a bowl of MURAmen in the future.
The first MURAmen is located at the corner of Camia and JP Rizal in Makati, and they have a new branch soon to come at the University Belt. They’re open from 11AM-2AM all week. You may also visit their official Facebook page at facebook.com/muramen.ph to upload your photos and drop comments. Their new U-Belt branch has its own Instagram account at http://www.instagram.com/muramenubelt/.
Photo courtesy of MuramenUbelt FB page